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Discipleship in Community

Modern Western evangelicalism is experiencing a crisis of discipleship and gospel witness because of its perception of spiritual maturity in almost exclusively individualistic terms. The Scriptures, however, conceive of spirituality and growth in corporate terms. The leader’s role, then, is not to disciple a select few, but to create a culture of mutual discipleship, resulting in communities of genuine grace and repentance. Western churches need to recapture this community approach to discipleship to combat the crisis.

By Joshua P. Smith

Church Meeting Around Candlelight | Pamplona, Spain | Naomi Smith
Church Meeting Around Candlelight | Pamplona, Spain | Naomi Smith

At the core of any gospel movement there must be a group of growing disciples of Jesus, a community of men and women committed to following Jesus in such a way that the gospel cannot help but shine forth from their God-centered and gospel-centered lives. From these ranks, leaders naturally arise capable of coming alongside the church and of helping spur it on toward even greater faithfulness and mission. From this commitment to greater faithfulness and mission, Christian communities grow, new churches are formed, and gospel movements are birthed. As Neil Cole writes, “If we cannot multiply churches, we will never see a movement. If we cannot multiply leaders we will never multiply churches. If we cannot multiply disciples, we will never multiply leaders. The way to see a true church multiplication movement is to multiply healthy disciples, then leaders, then churches, and finally movements.1

In our experience as church planters in Pamplona, Spain, we have seen Spanish churches vigorously engage in various approaches to discipleship. The most common are centered on the role of the main Sunday meeting, formal discipleship and training programs, camps and retreats, intensive schedules of nightly church meetings, or any combination of these. Each one can and has contributed to the spiritual growth of Spanish believers, but they are not proving sufficient for the task. The simple reality is that Spanish churches are broadly failing to produce mature Christian disciples who can faithfully bring the gospel to bear on both Spanish culture and on their own local Christian communities. The broader failure in Spain to produce new gospel movements, new churches, and new leaders is just a symptom of this deeper crisis of discipleship, the same crisis that is affecting much of the Western world.

"streets downtown" | Pamplona, Spain | Naomi Smith
“streets downtown” | Pamplona, Spain | Naomi Smith

Though many factors have contributed to this crisis, one of the most important has been the broad failure to approach discipleship as a community project. In contrast to the Western emphasis on programs and “personal” faith, the Scriptures present the corporate life of the Christian community as being the most appropriate context for discipleship growth to occur, serving as both an end and a means of biblical discipleship and spiritual growth. Whereas meetings and programs have their place, there is no better school for godly living and growth than a community of believers committed to pursuing the Lord together in the joys and struggles of daily life. As Tim Chester and Steve Timmis argue, “We need a culture of daily and mutual discipleship. Structures and programmes cannot create it. It requires the sharing of lives with gospel intentionality.”2

Over the last few years, our own house church community in Pamplona has attempted to embody such a community approach to church life and discipleship. Though the process has been slow, difficult, and imperfectly pursued, it has proven to be a life-changing one that has challenged many of our most basic ecclesial assumptions and life patterns. Perhaps most importantly, this process has provided us a glimpse of what Christian discipleship can and should look like. We are convinced that such a community-oriented approach to discipleship and leadership training offers genuine hope to the Spanish church, as well as to the entire Christian community throughout the world.

Community Growth as a Goal of Discipleship

Although modern evangelicalism addresses spiritual maturity in almost exclusively individualistic terms, the Scriptures present the corporate maturity of the entire community as the ultimate goal of the discipleship journey. The growth of the individual is not the chief end of the discipleship process, instead the growth of the whole community is. For this reason the church can never content itself with pockets of individual maturity, but must seek after the maturity of the entire body. Indeed the one cannot ultimately occur without the other, the individual’s growth being bound up with and dependent upon the broader discipleship journey of the entire church, and vice versa. Such mutual dependence, however, “is not merely part of the journey toward the goal of salvation, but is intrinsic to the goal itself.”3 Not to say that individual spiritual maturity does not matter, but the growth of the entire body into a mature man is what ultimately counts.

The corporate nature of spiritual growth is emphasized throughout the Scriptures. First Peter 2:5 (NASB) describes Christians “as living stones [who are] being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Paul says something similar in 1 Cor 3:9, 16-17 when he calls the local church “God’s building” and the “temple of God,” and again in Eph 2:21-22 when he says, “the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” As the community grows together, it fulfills its design to be a “spiritual house for a holy priesthood.”

Of course, each stone in the “spiritual house” matters in the process, but the individual stone is not the primary goal. A perfect stone does not make a perfect building; only when all the pieces are correctly built up as a corporate unit can the church become all that God desires. Only then can the church truly grow into its identity as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9). As the entire church–necessarily including each of its individual members–is built up unto maturity, the community proves capable of bearing witness together to the greatness of God in the world.

The corporate manner in which the Scriptures present Christian maturity is summarized particularly well in Eph 4:11-16. Here Paul writes that the end or goal of the building up of the body of Christ is so that “all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (v. 13). Both the equipping activity of church leaders and the works of service of the saints themselves are designed with this corporate goal in mind. Furthermore, the failure to achieve maturity as a corporate body undermines the possibility of the church’s members achieving maturity as individuals. The opposite of corporate maturity is not just corporate immaturity, but individual instability: the “mature man” degenerating into a collection of individual “children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (vv. 13-14).4 As Jack Shephard of the ABC television series “Lost” stated well, “If we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone.”5 According to Eph. 4, either Christians become mature together or most likely they will not become mature at all.

A corporate understanding of maturity and growth as the goal of the discipleship process allows a church to create an effective culture of mutual encouragement and ministry; such a culture is essential for the church to genuinely grow into maturity in practical ways.

While this emphasis on the corporate growth of the body may seem too theoretical, it is actually very practical. If Christians take seriously that their spiritual growth is wrapped up with the growth of the entire church, and their local church in particular, they will not be so quick to leave behind a struggling brother or be easily satisfied with their own complacency when they know that their actions affect others and not just themselves. If we teach Christians to think of themselves as running an individual race, they will approach growth in individualistic terms; however, if we teach them that they are part of a team that wins or loses together, they will be challenged to focus on both their own efforts and on those of their teammates. This team concept changes how believers must approach the Christian life. What good does it do to be the best soccer player in the world if one’s teammates cannot effectively kick the ball? This corporate understanding of maturity and growth as the goal of the discipleship process allows a church to create an effective culture of mutual encouragement and ministry; such a culture is essential for the church to genuinely grow into maturity in practical ways.

Community Life as a Means of Discipleship

In our experience in both the United States and in Spain, the broader Christian community is rarely understood–or expected–to be a primary means by which Christian growth occurs. Instead, the priority is usually placed on the discipleship activity of a handful of trained leaders. This approach, however, has proven incapable of producing the sort of corporate maturity discussed above. There are simply too many Christians who need the gospel brought to bear on their daily lives and too few leaders–no matter how gifted–to effectively come alongside each disciple. In places like Spain the ineffectiveness of this approach is magnified due to the widespread lack of local church leaders. Furthermore, because such leaders typically over-emphasize the role of “personal” spiritual growth in their discipleship efforts, those few who actually get discipled often prove woefully ill-equipped to bring their own spiritual life to bear on the life and growth of the broader community. As a result, many Western churches are languishing in a spiritual malaise that affects both their discipleship growth and their broader gospel witness.

The Scriptures, however, emphasize the role of the entire community in discipleship formation. They present an every-member-ministry approach to church life that highlights the day-to-day relational interaction that should be characteristic of each local community. In this more biblical perspective, discipleship is not something that a few engage in for the benefit of the immature, but that all engage in for the benefit of the whole. Consequently, discipleship is an activity that does not rest in the hands of a select few leaders, but one which depends upon the very life and daily interaction of the Christian community, where each of its members commit themselves to the Lord and to each other with gospel intentionality.

This idea of mutual discipleship might sound foreign to many modern evangelical ears, but it is a fundamental assumption of Christian life and discipleship in the New Testament. The vast majority of New Testament books and letters were written not to leaders, but to whole communities of common men and women who were expected to both listen to the prophetic word and corporately put it into practice. What are the New Testament books if they are not books of discipleship, laying out the way of Jesus, challenging the entire community to faithfully walk down that path together, and providing the tools for them to do so as a community? If modern church leaders had written the apostolic letters, we strongly suspect that the vast majority would be addressed to other leaders, with the average believer being neither expected nor genuinely trusted to engage in such radical discipleship activity. However, by addressing God’s discipleship teachings and commands to the entire community, the apostles make clear that the church’s discipleship journey is intended to be the responsibility of the entire church.

Ephesians 4:11-16

This sense of corporate responsibility under-girds both Paul’s discussion of the church in Eph 4:11-16 and the “one another” commands that fill the pages of the New Testament. With respect to Eph 4, we have already presented corporate maturity as a goal of discipleship, but the community itself is also presented as a God-ordained means by which such maturity is to be achieved. The evidence is overwhelming: the community’s “works of service” directly contribute to the “building up of the body of Christ” (v. 12); the community’s “speaking the truth in love” allows the church to “grow up” (v. 15); and the community’s “being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part,” through Christ “causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (v. 16). Paul clearly presents spiritual growth as a community activity.

This community aspect to spiritual growth in no way undermines the important role leaders play in “the equipping of the saints” (vv. 11-12), but emphasizes that the leaders’ equipping activity only produces the intended fruit when corporate every-member-ministry results. Equipping is never an end in and of itself. The order of Paul’s argument is important here, stating that God has given uniquely gifted ministers in order to equip the entire church body so that the body might be built up through their works of service so that “all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (v. 13). Leaders equip the saints for ministry, because real maturity is all-encompassing and requires the active contribution of every member. Trainers prepare team members and coaches get them ready, but without every member doing their part none of them will get to where they want to be. “Paul’s language here envisages God’s people collectively (we all) as en route to this vital destination.”6

Genuine growth requires the proper working of “each individual part” (v. 16); it is not enough to have a few leaders or only a few contributing members. Every Christian, without exception, has something to offer to every other Christian and vice versa. This interdependence among believers brings to mind the “spiritual gifts” passages in Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 1 Peter. Spiritual gifts are included in what “every joint supplies . . . each individual part” (Eph 4:16), but there is no reason to limit this text to only these gifts, because the working of each part goes beyond these gifts, which are not even explicitly mentioned here. The point is not that we contribute to the growth of the body by finding our niche (i.e. what is my spiritual gift?), but that we commit ourselves as whole persons to the growth of the body in love. This more holistic approach includes not only our gifts, but also our talents, interests, ethnicity, life experiences, finances, studies, etc. As Calvin states, “let us all be whatever we are for the benefit of each other.”7 In the hands of the Lord, everything we are becomes a potential tool for discipleship growth in community.

Another key element of this community-oriented approach to spiritual growth in Eph 4 is the primacy of truth and love. Growth occurs not only when gifted teachers teach, but also when fellow believers actively speak the truth in love (v. 15) to each other and faithfully demonstrate that truth for each other. Chester and Timmis state:

The means by which sinners are evangelized, the gospel word and the gospel community, are the means by which sinners are discipled. We continue to “evangelize” one another as Christians because it continues to be the gospel message with which we exhort and encourage one another. The good news that gives life is the good news that transforms, [the same] community that incarnates gospel truth for the sinner is the [same] community that incarnates gospel truth for the saint.8

To take gospel truth seriously while listening to a sermon at church is one thing, but it is quite another when you have to deal with your boss at work, or you are stuck in traffic, or you see a beautiful woman on a billboard, or you come home to crying kids or a cranky neighbor, and so forth. In the midst of daily life is where we most need our brothers and sisters to come alongside us and remind us of the truth by their words and actions; this coming alongside is where the issue of love becomes so important.

There is certainly a place for “speaking the truth” or “evangelizing” in formal church meetings, but Christian discipleship necessitates that they occur in day-to-day life as well. To take gospel truth seriously while listening to a sermon at church is one thing, but it is quite another when you have to deal with your boss at work, or you are stuck in traffic, or you see a beautiful woman on a billboard, or you come home to crying kids or a cranky neighbor, and so forth. In the midst of daily life is where we most need our brothers and sisters to come alongside us and remind us of the truth by their words and actions; this coming alongside is where the issue of love becomes so important. If Christians are to be “speaking the truth in love” (v. 15) and “building up [the church] in love” (v. 16), they must actually be engaged in the sort of real, relational communities where love can be both given and received. These sorts of relationships, if they are to be real at all, cannot exist only on Sunday mornings; they must spill over into daily life.

New Testament “One Another” Commands

This spilling over into daily life is precisely where the New Testament “one another” commands come into play. These community-based commands are so broad and all-encompassing that they can only be truly fulfilled if put into practice in daily life. They provide, for all intents and purposes, a practical outline for the sort of mutual, relational discipleship that we are discussing. Indeed, when strung together as a series of relational imperatives, they provide a surprisingly complete picture of what biblical discipleship was always intended to look like.

Overview of the “one another” commands in the New Testament
Rom 12:10 BE DEVOTED to one another James 5:16 CONFESS YOUR SINS to one another
Rom 12:10 GIVE PREFERENCE to one another in honor James 5:16 PRAY for one another
Rom 12:16 BE OF THE SAME MIND toward one another 1 Pet 4:9 BE HOSPITABLE to one another
Rom 15:7 ACCEPT one another 1 Pet 4:10 SERVE one another
1 Cor 12:25 CARE for one another 1 Jn 4:11 LOVE one another
Gal 6:2 BEAR one another’s BURDENS Rom 14:13 DO NOT JUDGE one another
Eph 4:2 FORBEAR one another Gal 5:15 DO NOT BITE AND DEVOUR one another
Eph 4:32 FORGIVE one another Gal 5:15 DO NOT CONSUME one another
Eph 4:32 BE KIND to one another Gal 5:26 DO NOT PROVOKE one another
1 Thess 5:11 ENCOURAGE one another Col 3:9 DO NOT LIE to one another
1 Thess 5:11 BUILD UP one another James 4:11 DO NOT SLANDER one another
Heb 10:24 STIMULATE one another James 5:9 DO NOT GRUMBLE against each other

Source: Chart adapted from Gail Seidel, “Life Story and Spiritual Formation” in Foundations of Spiritual Formation: A Community Approach to Becoming Like Christ (ed. Paul Pettit; Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2008), 243-44.

After all, what does it mean to forbear, forgive, encourage, and love one another if there is no “other”? Do even the fruits of the Spirit make any sense if they do not occur in genuine relationship with others?

At the heart of these “one another” commands is the shared life of a community committed to the Lord and to one another. These commands cannot be fulfilled in relational isolation, and they are not intended to be. Just as Paul touches on the relational implications of love in Eph 4, so also do we find in these “one another” commands that relationships are the proper context for gospel truth to be lived and reinforced. After all, what does it mean to forbear, forgive, encourage, and love one another if there is no “other”? Do even the fruits of the Spirit make any sense if they do not occur in genuine relationship with others? When people commit themselves to one another, discipleship takes place and spiritual growth is produced. “Real godly change–real sanctification–requires a people to live together in covenantal relationships.”9 For this reason, Christian discipleship is bound up with the life of the Christian community.

Not just the existence of relationships among believers is brought forward in the “one another” commands, but also the nature of such relationships. Genuine Christian relationships are not to be confused with those of a social club or even to be identified with the shallow handshake of so many Sunday morning church meetings. Instead, the sort of Christian, “one another” relationships that genuinely contribute to the discipleship growth of the church are those characterized by “confession, accountability, encouragement and rebuke.”10 In these relationships, people expect (and challenge) their brothers and sisters to mutually speak the truth in love, to stop putting on their Sunday faces, to stop pretending to have it all together, and to commit themselves to the genuinely challenging business of following Christ together.

These genuine Christian relationships require that truth be both spoken and received. However, the context in which both are done will make a significant difference. Local churches can only be communities of discipleship if their members are willing to open themselves up and to genuinely expose themselves to the community, but these communities must be committed to both truth and love. Being honest with itself and with its members, a community is able to challenge and effectively build up one another through this commitment to truth and love, which allows the community to be characterized by repentance and grace. As Chester writes:

We can only be communities of repentance if we’re communities of grace. And this means being honest, open and transparent about our struggles. We see one another as we really are and accept one another just as Christ accepted us. . . It means I don’t pose as a good person. Instead, I portray myself as I truly am: a sinner who constantly receives grace from Christ. It means we rejoice to be a messy community of broken people.11

Communities characterized by truth and love allow people to be open and real, because they are safe places where people can fail and be restored. Both self-righteous judgment and gossip lose their power when everyone is a sinner in need of grace. This is not to say that Christians should rejoice that their church communities are still broken, but to say that Christian communities do not have to hide that they are still in the process of being fixed. They can rejoice that God desires to use their brokenness to ultimately root out sin and bring greater healing to their members, to their broader Christian community, and even to their world.

The very struggles that are inherent to human relationships are a means by which God in His grace is choosing to sanctify His people, and we are also sanctified as the “one another” commands are brought to bear on our relationships. As Banks writes,
“True human community only develops as we learn to face the reality of our differences and work through them together,”12 or as Chester puts it: “One of the great things about living as part of a community is that in community people walk all over your idols. People press your buttons. They wind you up. That’s when we respond with bitterness, rage and so on. And that gives opportunities to spot our idolatrous desires.”13 Christian communities are not idealistic places of refuge, but places of real relationship and gospel transformation; they are places of genuine discipleship.

Creating a Culture of Mutual Discipleship

"post thanksgiving meal sports" | Pamplona, Spain | Naomi Smith
“post thanksgiving meal sports” | Pamplona, Spain | Naomi Smith

The sort of community discipleship that we have been discussing does not simply occur by accident. One of our earliest mistakes as a house church community was thinking that by freeing up more time for relationships–by only having one formal meeting each week–that such mutually edifying relationships would naturally take place. However, they simply did not occur. People’s lives rarely intersected naturally and few would make the extra effort to intentionally seek each other out during the week. Even the one weekly meeting we did have began to be undermined, because, despite our insistence to the contrary, people continually confused “few formal meetings” with “casual commitment” and would correspondingly attend church meetings irregularly. There were plenty of background issues that contributed to this situation, but the point is that commitment to mutual discipleship in community is not the default position of most Western people, believers or not.

Churches must seek to create a new “culture” of community in which mutual discipleship becomes the normal pattern of community life. This new culture will necessarily end up challenging the dominant individualism of secular Western culture as well as the actual church experience and expectations of most Western evangelical believers–meaning: it will not be easy.

Consequently, if churches are to be genuinely characterized by mutual discipleship, this interdependent, Eph 4, and “one another” community living must be actively pursued and developed. Churches must seek to create a new “culture” of community in which mutual discipleship becomes the normal pattern of community life. This new culture will necessarily end up challenging the dominant individualism of secular Western culture as well as the actual church experience and expectations of most Western evangelical believers–meaning: it will not be easy. Half-hearted attempts will simply not be sufficient, because the intended change is too great, but this change can be accomplished.

One of the best examples we have found of a group that has successfully created a culture of mutual discipleship and community is that of the Crowded House, a family of house church networks primarily located in Sheffield, England, and founded by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. The Crowded House describes their efforts in the following way:

We try to create this culture by regularly teaching our values, celebrating gospel opportunities, setting aside time each Sunday to share what we have been doing, “commissioning” people as missionaries in their workplaces and social clubs. Above all we model the culture for one another so that it becomes the normal thing to do. We need Christian communities who saturate ordinary life with the gospel. The communities to which we introduce people must be communities in which “God-talk” is normal. This means talking about what we are reading in the Bible, praying together whenever we share needs, delighting together in the gospel, sharing our spiritual struggles, not only with Christians but with unbelievers.14

The Crowded House recognizes that creating culture is about offering a different way of life and inculturating people into that way of life. Though a new culture of mutual discipleship may appear different or even strange at first, once internalized by the majority of the community’s members, this mutuality becomes the expected way of relating and living in community. As is evidenced in the above quote, creating culture is something that requires time, hard work, and constant reinforcement. Leaders such as Chester and Timmis played (and continue to play) a significant role in creating this culture of community in the Crowded House, especially in the beginning. However, now the community members themselves have become the primary movers as they collectively reinforce their new culture of community and, as such, genuinely create an “alternative society in the midst of the world, one that reflects within itself and transmits to the culture at large the attitudes, values, and standards of the kingdom.”15

For some people, including many Christians, this model may sound cultish, but the Crowded House’s emphasis on biblical fidelity, mutual ministry, gospel partnerships, and real transparency in its beliefs, practices, and mission effectively guards against any temptation toward unbiblical practices or cults of personality. This culture of community might appear strange or disconcerting to some Christians, but the concern likely has little to do with the actual life and practices of such a community and a great deal more to do with how many Christians have so compromisingly and syncretistically adopted the reigning individualistic culture of the Western world.

In addition to what Chester and Timmis said, our own experience has also highlighted some factors that have proven significant in helping us effectively establish a new culture of community in our Spanish house church. These factors include the importance of establishing patterns of community life, modeling mutual discipleship, expecting faithfulness and church discipline, calling for commitment, and practicing patience. Patterns of community life provide regular contexts for discipleship to happen, models of mutual discipleship help bridge the theoretical and the practical, expectations of faithfulness and discipline make repentance and mutual edification a normal part of daily community life, and community commitment helps create a shared vision and context of trust. What has perhaps been most challenging is the ongoing practice of patience as leaders attempt to develop this community of discipleship.

We have wrestled with the concept of discipleship in community for years, and we never cease to be amazed at how difficult it is to truly internalize it all. Our pride and individualism, as well as previous patterns of church life and expectations, continually creep in and try to undermine the culture of community that we are trying to form. We are tempted to impatience as we watch brothers and sisters fail to fully understand and embrace this new culture, even as we struggle to do so ourselves. The simple reality is that no matter how passionate, convinced, and committed we might be, creating a culture of mutual discipleship does not happen in a sprint; it is a long journey that requires patience.

Perhaps this issue of practicing patience is so obvious that it does not need to be mentioned; however, genuinely creating a culture of mutual discipleship is a long and messy journey that tempts many to quit before it is over. People will get angry, frustrated, look down on their brothers and sisters, question biblical priorities, settle for the status quo, or any of these, but patience is what will keep us moving forward, trusting the Lord to make His promises real in our own lives and in those of our community members. Communities cannot come into existence without patience, and we need communities if we are to produce genuinely Christian disciples.

Practicing patience is not just an issue of sticking it out until the very end, but rather an attitude that allows us to fully engage this project of change, while not getting too caught up in our narrow ministry goals (church plants, new leaders, etc.). It allows us to slow down and appreciate the journey itself and where it is taking us. Patience helps us to notice, rejoice over, and find encouragement in the small changes and little victories that have occurred in our own lives and in the lives of others. It helps us to think of others as real people and not just as a means to an end. It requires us to give up our own selfish dreams of community and humbly trust God with his own people. Practicing patience is what prepares us and allows us to experience genuine community, since real community is about sharing life as we head together toward a common destination.

Conclusion

If Western churches–and Spanish churches in particular–are to produce the kind of growing disciples who blossom into leaders, start churches, and provide the fuel for widespread gospel movements, we are convinced that they must recapture a community approach to discipleship. Individualistic and leadership dependent models must give way to more biblical ones which engage the Christian community as both an ends and a means of genuine discipleship growth. We are under no illusion that this process is a quick fix or an easy path, but it is the one God Himself has designed and chosen for us. Only as we engage in the slow, messy business of creating communities of discipleship will the gospel be brought to bear most fully on our own lives, on our communities, and on our broken world.

Notes

1 Neil Cole, Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens (San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass A Wiley Imprint, 2005), 98.
2 Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community (Nottingham, England: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 119.
3 Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1989), 82.
4 Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1999), 308.
5 Lostpedia, “White Rabbit,” lostpedia.wikia.com, http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/White_Rabbit (Accessed February 2, 2010).
6 O’Brien, Ephesians, 305.
7 John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians (trans. William Pringle; Edinburgh: T. Constable for Calvin Translation Society, 1854; repr., Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 288.
8 Chester and Timmis, Total Church, 110.
9 Tod E. Bolsinger, It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian: How the Community of God Transforms Life (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2004), 22.
10 Tim Chester, You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for our Sinful Behaviour and Negative Emotions (Nottingham, England: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 174.
11 Ibid., 177.
12 Robert Banks and Julia Banks, The Church Comes Home (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2006), 188.
13 Chester, You Can Change, 169.
14 Chester and Timmis, Total Church, 62.
15 Banks and Banks, The Church Comes Home, 229.

1 thought on “Discipleship in Community”

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    Jim W. Smith

    Joshua,
    Very well written. It’s so easy to lose sight of the whole body of Christ in our desire to individually use our gifts. I enjoyed the article very much.
    Love, Your Dad, Jim

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